Tina Smith, who’s served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor since 2014, has been named Al Franken’s replacement in the Senate by Governor Mark Dayton.
The official announcement was posted to the Minnesota state website early Wednesday. Smith will serve a one-year term, until January 2019, after which the citizens of Minnesota will vote in a special election to select a new Senator to serve out the remaining year in Franken’s term (he was reelected in 2014). According to the mn.gov site, Smith’s accomplishments include expanding “paid parental leave for Minnesota workers, crack down on wage theft, combat the opioid crisis, and grow Minnesota’s clean energy economy.” The current lieutenant governor, who will resign her post before being sworn into the United States Senate, also “led efforts to enroll tens of thousands of children in high-quality early learning programs, expand access to high-speed internet in Greater Minnesota, and expand access to jobs and economic opportunity for all Minnesotans.”
Of her appointment, Governor Dayton said “Tina Smith is a person of the highest integrity and ability. There is no one I trust more to assume the responsibilities of this important office. I know that she will be a superb Senator, representing the best interests of our state and our citizens.” And Smith accepted the position though she “never anticipated this moment.” “I will be a fierce advocate in the United States Senate for economic opportunity and fairness for all Minnesotans,” Smith said.
Smith’s appointment comes just six days after Franken resigned amid a flurry of groping and harassment allegations, which kicked off when KABC morning news host Leeann Tweeden accused the former senator of sexual assault. Since then, seven other women have stepped forward, including army veteran Stephanie Kemplin. Amid the accusations, 18 Democratic senators urged Franken to resign.